Scarves are not just for haphazardly wrapping around our necks before facing the onslaught of a Canadian winter. They are also for indoor wear, lending effortless style to an outfit. But buying a beautiful scarf and pairing it with the right ensemble are two different things. Robin Keeler, fashion director at Yorkdale Shopping Centre in Toronto, helps unravel the mystery behind expertly accessorizing with scarves.
Indoor or outdoor?
When trying to distinguish if a scarf is suitable for indoor wear, Keeler suggests looking at its texture and warmth. "An outdoor scarf has that feeling of cosiness and is heavier in weight," says Keeler. Wool or wool blends are better left for outings rather than a day at the office, whereas a lightweight silk or polyester scarf is a perfect accent to an indoor outfit.
How to wear a scarf? Let us count the ways
The easiest way to wear a scarf is to loop the length around your neck, but here's how to earn style points for creativity:
• Thread a long, skinny scarf through your belt loops for an eye-catching belt.
• Layer a sash over a long top to define your waist.
• Wrap a wide, lightweight scarf over your shoulders to ward off an evening chill or the office air-conditioning.
• Wind a fanciful scarf in your hair as a headband.
• Tie a short silk scarf to a top-handled structured bag for a ladylike look.
A scarf don't
If you're not careful, your scarf could make you look like a relic from an earlier decade. Keeler cautions, "A scarf placed on one shoulder and held with a brooch would be my idea of dated." If Dynasty was your inspiration last time you wore an indoor scarf, purge those old habits and pick up some new ones.
• Just like your clothes, choose colours that flatter your skin tone.
• There's nothing wrong with a patterned scarf on a patterned outfit, as long as the scale of the scarf pattern doesn't overpower the pattern of your clothes.
• Play textures against each other for contrast or keep like textures together to complement.
• Look for soft fabrics that tie and drape easily.
• "Buy the best you can afford," recommends Keeler. "A good silk scarf can last a lifetime."
Dress it up or down
A scarf can be a powerful accessory, pulling an entire outfit in a certain direction, so be sure to choose the right scarf for the occasion. "Take a little black dress," says Keeler. "Worn with a beautiful cashmere scarf and a pair of flat boots -- it's a great day look. The same dress worn with a scarf with sparkle in a delicate fabric and strappy sandals -- it says evening."
When pulling your next outfit together, remember to save your big woolen muffler for the first snowstorm and freshen up your look with an indoor scarf instead. As Keeler says, "One of the quickest ways to tie a look together, add polish and finish it off is to add a good-quality scarf."
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